Robert AG (Bob) Monks is a experienced shareholder activist and pioneer in corporate governance. The tall octogenarian has spent a lifetime influencing boards and board performance, especially in corporate America. Monks was invited to deliver the keynote address the ICGN conference.
Monks, a gifted orator, spoke from the heart, and he had the gathered delegates enthralled as he did so. Reviving memories of the wartime leader Winston Churchill, Monks reminded delegates that, while they had come far, they were not at the end (ie. 'arrived') nor were they at the beginning of the end. They were, he said, "at the end of the beginning". He went on to suggest:
Monks continued by offering several recommendations to the audience (comprised largely of institutional investor representatives but also other participants in the corporate governance community including academics and advisors). He said that shareholders need to be genuinely engaged (by specifying what they want from their investment); that integrated reporting is crucial (to provide clarity around actual business performance); and, that all publicly-listed companies need to have real (identifiable) owners (to satisfy the engagement challenge.
Monks received a standing ovation from some of the delegates, such was the power of his oratory and the high esteem in which he is held. One surprise: neither value creation or strategy was mentioned. I wonder what Monks thinks about these activities and the board's role therein. Rather than guess, I'm going to ask him. Congratulations to the conference organisers for securing Bob Monks' contribution to the debate.
Thoughts on corporate purpose, strategy and governance; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.